Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Laboratory Testing of Ultra-low Sulfur Heating Oil(ST10006-1)

Brookhaven National Lab


Nearly three million households (40% NYS residents) and numerous businesses in New York State use almost two billion gallons of fuel oil per year for heating. Conventional heating oil has a sulfur content of approximately 0.2 percent (2,000 ppm) with regional variations throughout New York State. Improved heating equipment and new fuels offer the potential for significant energy, environmental and economic benefits in the oil heat market. At a 50 ppm sulfur level or lower, ultra-low sulfur heating oil (ULS) produces sulfur oxide quantities comparable to those produced by natural gas. ULS often has lower levels of fuel-bound nitrogen than low-sulfur and conventional heating oil. ULS offers the potential to reduce NOX, SOX and particulate matter emissions. ULS recently has been introduced for heating applications in Europe. Laboratory testing and field experience have shown significant additional energy benefits (e.g., reduced manufacturing costs for oil-fired, condensing boilers) and environmental benefits, but have also identified certain technical challenges, including reduced fuel pump lubrication/service life and sporadic corrosion of low NOX burner flame tubes. European research has also begun to show a somewhat better corrosion resistance for heat exchangers at fuel sulfur levels in the range of 50 to 100 ppm, than at the 10 ppm level, due to the formation of protective sulfur oxide-based layers on heat exchanger surfaces.

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Project Description

Specific parameters to be evaluated will include emissions of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulates as well as maintenance cost savings and energy efficiency gains that might result from reduced deposit formation on heat exchangers. Other areas of technical investigation will include long term performance of condensing boilers, potential corrosion of oil burner components, fuel lubricity in fuel pumps, compatibility with non-metallic materials in fuel systems, fuel storage stability, and compatibility/chemical interaction with heating oil in existing fuel tanks.


Fuel savings and reduced emissions of harmful pollutants will be a benefit, as well as improved service life and reduced maintenance costs for oil-fired heating equipment.

Project Results


Brookhaven National Lab
32 Lewis Road Building 130
Upton, NY 11973

Principle Investigator

Feng Wang

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Research Study

Technologies Types:

Building Systems
Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning

NYSERDA Contact Information

Megan Bulman


R&D - Buildings Research

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST10006-1

Last Updated: 2/22/2012